Government ministers have been accused of making an embarrassing retreat over plans to monitor internet usage, emails, and phone calls by announcing that the new bill will only appear in draft form.
The plans, which were met with widespread derision, would allow the government to take unprecedented steps when it came to accessing electronic information. These are seen by many as an abuse of civil liberties. A petition aimed at stopping the legislation, set up and promoted by Twitter users, reached 50,000 signatories within a short space of time showing the true depth of opposition the measures faced.
Speaking about the proposals, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “This sort of data, used at the moment, through the proper processes, is absolutely vital in stopping serious crime and some of the most serious terrorist incidents that could kill people in our country, so it’s essential we get this right.”
The news that the bill would only be published in draft form was welcomed by many, including Nick Pickles speaking on behalf of civil liberty campaigners Big Brother, who said, “The fact that it is a draft bill is a significant climb down. It means that ministers will have to take some time over and contemplate this in more detail. These proposals are going to need a lot of scrutiny and this is what the Government should have announced in the first place.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that his party will insist on guarantees being in place that will protect civil liberties.